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Injured Indy 500 crewmember discharged from hospital, recovering from surgery

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INDIANAPOLIS – Chris Minot, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan crewmember who was injured during a pit top in Sunday’s 103rd Indianapolis 500, was discharged from IU Health Methodist Hospital Monday following surgery to his leg on Sunday night. The chief mechanic known as “Chachi” hopes to return to action in the NTT IndyCar Series soon.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing issued a statement on Sunday night following the Indianapolis 500.

“We were relieved to hear that Chris was in good spirits before surgery on his left leg,” the statement said. “He will be held overnight at IU Health Methodist Hospital. He has been a member of this team for almost 10 years and is a big asset. We have no doubt that he will come back stronger.”

Minot was getting ready to change the right-front tire on Jordan King’s Honda (pictured above), but King came into the pits and lost control. His car hit one of the wheels that was laid out for the pit stop and that wheel crashed into Minot, who was in his kneel down position to change the wheel.

The AMR Safety crew tended to Minot before carting him off pit lane. After a quick evaluation at the IU Health Infield Hospital, he was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital in downtown Indianapolis.

King started 26th and had been running 21st before his second pit stop on Lap 69.  King lost control of the car and slid into the rear tire was set out to be put on and into the path of Minot, chief mechanic for the entry and outside front tire changer.  King later served a drive through penalty on Lap 80 while running in 20th place, two laps down. He went on to finish 24th.

It was his first oval race and first Indianapolis 500.

“I’m thinking about Chachi (Chris Minot) obviously,” King said. “I’m really disappointed in myself for the team, really for everybody.  I think we had a pretty strong car.  We were looking quite strong and making progress and looking at how the race finished, I think we could’ve been in the top 10, so that’s quite hard to swallow.

“First bit of call is to check that everything’s okay at the hospital.  It’s not good, it’s not what you want to do (injure a crewman).  It’s not.  I don’t even know what to say.  I’m really disappointed in myself and for everyone involved.  We could have had a good race but didn’t, so that’s that.”

Tony Kanaan says his message of IndyCar-NASCAR unity aimed at fans

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Over a 22-year IndyCar career featuring its share of adversity, Tony Kanaan has learned to embrace trying to find the positives in a negative situation.

He believes NASCAR and IndyCar will find a tiny silver lining from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The series will race together at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in a July 4 doubleheader, which he believes sends a message of unity he’d like to see from the world during this dark period.

“It’s time to send that message (of unity),” Kanaan told “Happy Hours” hosts Kevin Harvick and Matt Yocum in a Wednesday afternoon interview on SiriusXM’s NASCAR Channel. “If we don’t come out of this situation as better people, globally, in every way, shape or form … it’s just being kind to people. Hopefully, we’ll be sending the right messages, doing radio shows together, doing live on Instagram together, doing races together.

ON NBCSN: IndyCar at virtual Barber Motorsports Park, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

MORE: Jimmie Johnson wants to run IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader

“I was bugging Jimmie Johnson to say, ‘Can I be a guest in NASCAR on iRacing?’ I think the misperception, and probably a little our fault as well, is that people don’t know how (IndyCar and NASCAR drivers) respect each and how we think each other’s jobs are so cool.”

It was Kanaan’s comment last week that “it’s not us and them. It is the motorsports world’ that prompted Harvick to ask the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner about his views on past IndyCar and NASCAR divisions.

Harvick noted that “over the years, IndyCar and NASCAR have that separate stigma as far as the fans, but the racers in the middle, we talk with each other. We’re just racers. I think it’s absolutely great” the doubleheader will happen.

Kanaan said he felt it was the right message to send because of the fans. “For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way,” he said. “We always respected each other and thought each other’s jobs were cool. That tweet was for our fans who say, ‘Those cars are too fast. Those cars are too slow.’ It’s time for us to stop. It’s a racing family.

“For people who don’t understand about racing, any race car is cool. Doesn’t matter if it’s a go kart, a sprint car, a  Cup car, it doesn’t matter. … The situation, we’re in, we’re all equal. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. We’re all in the same boat now. We can’t do what we love. It just clicked. I said it’s time to send that message. Hopefully this will be the end for ‘you guys and us’ for the fans. For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way.”

The GMR IndyCar Grand Prix is scheduled to be run July 4 on the IMS road course ahead of the Xfinity race, which will mean that the NTT Series’ Firestone rubber will be on the asphalt before the Goodyears of NASCAR hit the track.

Recalling a NASCAR test many years ago at Nazareth Speedway when he turned laps a second faster because there’d been an IndyCar race the previous day, Harvick asked Kanaan whether the varying tire compounds might present a challenge.

“I don’t there is a solution for that,” Kanaan said. “It’s part of the job, and we need to realize that you guys run different tires. We run softer tires. It’s no different than (IndyCar) racing with the trucks at Texas. It’s probably harder on an oval than a road course.

“But I like it. It’s part of the challenge and makes the race weekend more interesting, the people who can manage that as well.”

Even though he is sidelined, Kanaan still will stay busy this weekend, racing in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. IndyCar iRacing Challenge event at virtual Barber Motorsports Park on NBCSN. He will be tuning in Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox and FS1 as NASCAR hits Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Last Sunday I had my alarm set for 12:40 p.m., because at 1 o’clock (NASCAR was) on,” Kanaan said with a laugh. “I told (wife) Lauren, ‘Let’s turn the TV on and watch the NASCAR race!’ I was excited, and it wasn’t even real. She’s like, ‘Man, look at you … I said, ‘That’s what we got.’ It’s been a weird year.”

Harvick also will be racing Sunday, having recently joined Kanaan in installing a new racing simulator at home.

“Let’s do this Kevin: Come do an IndyCar race on iRacing,” Kanaan said. “I’ll do NASCAR. Now that you have a sim. What do you think?”

“Well, I’ll have to go to my 7-year-old to figure out how to drive it fast,” Harvick said.

“He’s been practicing. I’m really good at crashing.”